We all know that eating well helps us stay fit and healthy in a physical sense, but often we overlook the effects that our diet plays on our mental health. Too many of us (and I hold my hands up here too) ignore the consequences diet, stress and environment have on our mental well being.
However, there is enough evidence out there to prove that there is a link between certain foods and our emotions. Food affects our chemical balance and metabolic rates, which in turn means that our emotions can change drastically depending on the food we eat.
As a long time sufferer of depression, I’ve often been a keen believer in the positive effects of a good diet on mental health.
Here are 6 of my favorite foods that I’ve used to help boost my emotional and spiritual state.
This is a pretty broad food type so let me be more specific: I’m talking beans, peas or peanuts. These foods are rich in magnesium, which increases your energy levels and keeps you feeling rejuvenated.
On top of this, they aid the production of neurotransmitters, which help in boosting cognitive abilities and mental strength. Studies show that consuming 150 milligrams of magnesium a day can help boost your brain power.
Food tip: Add peas and chickpeas to a salad or as a side dish for the perfect brain-boosting compliment to your dinner!
Walnuts help your body generate serotonin, which is a brain chemical that positively affects mood, memory and brain function. Each gram of walnuts can yield 87 micrograms of of the brain-boosting chemical.
As well as being a brain superfood, they’re great at staving off hunger mid-morning, and are a brilliant energy source.
Food tip: Have a bag of walnuts at hand while you work for a mood-lifting and energy-punching supersnack.
You might be hearing alarm bells at the mere mention of chocolate here. However, let’s be clear: I’m talking about the dark (and healthier) variety here.
While the physical health benefits of dark chocolate have long been up for debate, its effects on the mind are significant. It has been found to improve mood by increasing serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain. 85% dark chocolate actually contains serotonin itself, and also contains carbohydrates in the form of sugar, which will further boost your serotonin levels – although all in moderation, my friend!
Fun fact: Eating about an ounce and a half of the dark stuff daily for two weeks has been proven to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Now I think we can all get on board with that.